Somali Magazine – East African Community (EAC) Secretary-General Dr Peter Mathuki has now revealed that the trade bloc has welcomed Ethiopia’s interest in joining the trade bloc as its 9th member state after Somalia.
He revealed that Somalia will be admitted to the bloc this month, during the Ordinary Heads of State Summit scheduled for November 23-24 in Arusha, and the region’s presidents are expected to endorse Somalia’s accession.
Dr Mathuki told a panel at a recent Africa Investment Forum in Marrakech, Morocco, that the bloc is looking to expand to the entire Horn of Africa.
“The East African Community is one of the building blocks of the African Union and it’s fast-growing. We have a market of around 300 million people. And this November, we are admitting Somalia into the Community. The coastline of the East African Community will stretch almost 500,000 kilometers. And we look forward to more expansion; we are looking at Ethiopia, which has shown interest in joining the Community. So, at the end of the day, we are looking at a market of close to 700 million people.”
The EAC Secretary General further pointed out that the trade bloc is focusing on people-centered and the role of the private sector in driving intra-regional trade and integration.
At the Africa Investment Forum, leaders called upon the need to expand the transport corridors in integrating Africa and facilitating the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA.
Dieudonne Dukundane ,Burundi’s Infrastructure minister said the standard gauge railway from the port of Dar es Salaam to Burundi and DRC will be a game-changer in trade and exploitation of the rich mineral potential the three countries have, noting that once complete it would save his country about $70 million in transport costs.
“Failing to invest in a railway has been costly to our economy. We are 1,500 kilometres from the port of Dar es Salaam. When we take a round trip this makes 3,000 kilometres. And relying on roads means that you only carry 25 or 28 tonnes. With a railway in place, it will help us save nearly $100 per tonne. And, if we were running a business of nearly a million tonnes per year, we’d be saving not less than $70 million. So without a railway, in 10 years, we would have lost nearly $1 billion. This is the amount that is needed to build one,” the minister said.
Dr Mathuki said he was pushing for investment in infrastructure projects on the main corridors linking the Great Lakes with the ports of Dar and Mombasa to boost trade.
“The deal is, let us invest in infrastructure. We may be late, but better late than never,” he said.